I owe her an apology. For my pride, and thinking I have it easier. I admit, though I never formed the words, "Well, at least I don't have...." they circled inside my head many times last week.
Last week, I was a companion to her son. You see, for our church's Vacation Bible School, I am a special needs shadow. I go where I am needed. And this time, I was needed with a seven year old boy with Down's Syndrome. He was the sweetest little guy and I have nothing negative to say about him at all.
That isn't why I owe his mother an apology. I enjoyed my time with him. He was obedient, and agreed to everything I asked. My job simply consisted of redirecting him and reminding him where he needed to be. He would look at me with his deep brown eyes and say, "Yeah." Everything was "yeah." And it was fine. It really was. Until I was driving home by myself and the nasty little thoughts overtook me.
In my house, intelligence is prized. We all have high IQs and it is important to use our intellect. Maybe it is more important to me, than other family members, I don't know. But I found, as I drove home, and my thoughts roamed, that somehow though my children have high-functioning autism, it is exactly that: high. I rationalized, at least they function well, and respond to me and are smart.. And that's when I mentally slapped myself alongside my own damn head.
"At least my kids aren't like that." And as soon as I thought it, I was ashamed. Because, who am I to set up a hierarchy when it comes to special needs' parenting? We all have a hard time. We have all sat up in the middle of the night, crying and worrying about the fate of our children. We have endured the well-meaning questions and "Will he always be that way" from strangers. We have learned how to deal with what God has given us, with mostly grace, but sometimes anger. The point is, we are all in the same boat, and still bailing.
You know, if you'd been there, you would have done the same thing. You would have smacked me. And? I deserved it. I am only thankful that I was alone and didn't stick my foot in it by voicing that stupid thought aloud. But also admit, it, you have thought it, too. But...guess what? There is NO hierarchy in special needs parenting. I don't have it better than anyone else. We are all in this together. We all were dealt a rough hand, and it is what it is.
And so, I owe his mother, and everyone else, an apology for my arrogance. I hope you can forgive me, and my hidden pride. And I just want to remind anyone else who thinks this way: KNOCK IT OFF! We don't need to pick at one another...we need to band together. Instead of sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it doesn't happen, we need to attack it head on. It is not okay, and we need to call ourselves on it.
T, who feels like an idiot